After a bruising battle with course and weather conditions, Kenny Perry — tied for the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup at just 8-under with Tom Pernice on the Cochise course at Desert Mountain — stopped by the media room to give us a sense of what the day was like. He shot 68 to Pernice’s even par. Jay Haas slipped to 7-under after a 75.
As you read this, keep in mind that Perry was not complaining, he was just reporting. As you’ll see later on, he said he didn’t want a thing to change. That said, this is what the players had to contend with:
Just a battle out there. Greens are so hard, you really can’t control with the wind and altitude and the greens where you cannot fly the ball, you have to play everything 20, 30 feet short, bounce it up. With some of those pin placements, very tricky. I feel like I’m at a U.S. Open. It’s very hard to fit the ball near the holes so that’s why you see nobody really running away with it. You see all the guys kind of bunching up. You’ll see a couple good scores here. That’s why you see the scores aren’t very low.
Nobody — Jay played — I played with him yesterday, he played incredible, 62. I thought he was going to be uncatchable. But then I think we were playing a southeast wind and it was warmer. Today with the southwest and a little cooler, I don’t know, maybe just was a little stiff out there, I don’t know. But the golf course played totally different to me from yesterday to today based on wind, so I was hitting totally different shots off the tee, irons into the green. So it was — that’s a tough test out there, it really is.
So what does he think the ‘morrow will bring? It’s going to be a real shootout:
I think it will be exciting tomorrow, for one thing. It’s anybody’s day tomorrow. I mean, you’ve got probably eight to 10 guys who have a very realistic shot of winning this golf tournament and it’s just one hot round. We’ve got one round left in the season, we’re all going to be kind of going for it, and it just seems whoever’s going to get the putter rolling tomorrow is going to be the guy that’s going to win this golf tournament.
He’s happy that he was the guy who won it last year. He’s enjoyed putting up a defense and being announced on the tee all year long as its winner. But he feels like he also stirred up a hornets nest in Bernhard Langer:
It’s been a good defense. I’ve enjoyed being the Schwab Cup champ, being announced that on every tee box, and it’s been very thrilling for me and I put up a good fight. I’m fourth in points, but Bernhard, you’ve just got to shake that man’s hand. I mean, he won five times and I don’t know how many second places he’s had. I tell everybody I stuffed the prod in him a little too much last year, I was aggravating him after I nipped him for the Cup and I think he was determined not to let that happen this year. But good for him, he played great.
And Mr. Montgomerie has managed to settle himself after yesterday’s triple at the par-3 17th and get himself right back in it with a 4-under 66. He’s T4 with Fred Couples at 6-under:
And Colin’s played great and Colin had a great round today. He probably had the low round of the day [he did], it was great, so he’s back in the tournament. So you’ve got all the guys that are in the top four, five, six in points, we’re all right there, we all have a shot at winning the tournament.
And then I had a couple of questions related to the severity of the greens:
Q. Did you think the greens were unfair or are you just saying that’s the way they were?
Well, I’m — no, I’m not saying — it’s the same for everybody. I’m saying it’s hard to — nobody can get it close, that’s why it’s keeping us from making many birdies. I actually should have the advantage with my height and spin on the golf ball, but still the ball is taking such a huge first bounce I mean, Freddie hit a beautiful 6-iron on 18. He hit it 15 feet short of the hole and it almost went in the back bunker back there. I mean, it was just a beautiful golf shot and he didn’t get rewarded for it. He made a nice putt, though, for birdie after he chillied his chip.
Other than that, it’s just tough. You’ve got to have patience. I feel like I’m at a U.S. Open. It’s just not designed — where like two years ago we had weather, I remember the ball really biting and checking up, you could fire at the flag, you could play the number, where this year you play a club less and expect it to kick on up in there.
Q. Were the pins fair?
Yeah, I think the golf course is great and I hope they leave it. I hope they don’t put any water out there on the greens. We’ve played like this for three days, we need to play like this for four, not dump a bunch of water on the golf course tonight.
Q. Do you think they’ll do that, they’ll leave it alone?
I have no idea, we’ll find out.
As to Jay Haas and his 5-over 75, I was really surprised that he wasn’t able to at least break par and keep his streak of consecutive rounds of par or better going. I followed him for nine holes and he was just nowhere near as sharp as he was the day before; it looked like he was playing too carefully. But then, maybe its good that he got that behind him because while it was a nice accomplishment, it really is not important except for history’s sake. What’s important is winning golf tournaments which he is still in position to do.
His day was marred when his drive on the par-5 8th hit an Hispanic woman in the forehead so hard that his ball went 30 yards backward into an unplayable lie in the desert brush. She went down, of course, but was conscious when I arrived (Pernice was unplayable in the desert on the other side of the hole and I wanted to see how that worked out; it wasn’t clear at that point that she wasn’t going to just pop right back up).
The first responders were two Scottsdale PD mountain bike officers who arrived with medical kits and proceeded to tend to her with concussion questions, a blood pressure cuff and a bandage. Jay, of course, was very concerned and remained close until the police asked everybody to move along. They called for an electric medical cart to come out and get her to the clubhouse, but this was after what seemed like twenty minutes. She spoke no English, so a gentleman was translating through all of this. Reports later were that she was going to be alright.
He was finally able to take his drop and play back to the fairway when the area cleared of spectators and then patiently checked on her one last time before moving on. His genuine concern was evident. It was a horrible thing to have happened to both of them.
I didn’t get a chance to speak to him about his round because, in a gesture of courtesy, the senior Champions Tour guy in the media center merely pulled him aside at the scoring tent for a few private words rather than dragging him into the media center itself. Here’s what Jay had to say about his round:
Q. Tough day out there, huh? A little bit of everything.
Yeah, I wasn’t sharp obviously and it was a tough day weather wise. The wind was blowing a little bit harder coming from a different direction. You know, I was just off just a little bit and that showed. And then, you know, hitting the lady at No. 8 kind of — you know, it just, I felt awful obviously anytime that happens. I understand that she’s doing okay, but you know, if you’ve done it, you know what it feels like. It’s not a good feeling when she’s laying there bleeding and everything.
Q. It’s got to be hard to shake that off no matter how many times it’s happened.
Right. The situation, you know, that could be an excuse but not really, I just wasn’t sharp before that. If I had been sharp, I would have hit the fairway there and not bothered her. So it’s probably her first and last time she’s ever been to a golf tournament.
Q. But you’re still in it.
Yeah, yeah, I guess disappointing that I didn’t shoot a little better score today, but frustrating that a good one would have given me a nice cushion. It was a hard day. As you witnessed the scores, not many good scores today, but yeah, 76 or 75 was not what I was hoping for obviously.
Q. Those streaks are over so at least you don’t have to worry about that coming to the course.
That’s right, no pressure there. Yeah, just hopefully shake it off and be ready tomorrow. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.
Just one of those days, just didn’t feel it, you know. Just didn’t feel sharp and it showed.